Whether you have a remote/distributed team, or need to deploy a virtual team, holding any collaboration events for an Agile team is no easy task. As the Agile Manifesto states, we should value “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. While I agree with this wholeheartedly, I also believe that sometimes we need to explore new tools that will enhance our collaboration, which is even more important in a virtual setting.
Specific to the Daily Scrum, which was designed to maximize facetime between team members, what techniques can help your team be productive and successful? I have compiled a shortlist of ideas for your consideration.
#1 – Be Disciplined and Stay Vigilant
What does “discipline” have to do with effectiveness? This means that we should be consistent with the Daily Scrum and hold them at the same time every day. Do not succumb to the temptation to reduce this to less frequent than daily because the team needs this interaction to sustain good rapport and an effective communication path.
#2 – Use the Agile Management Tool Religiously
Focus is one of the biggest challenges that a virtual team will encounter. Using the Agile management tool to show a visual Scrum board will maximize the team focus during and after the Daily Scrum. You may even ask the team member to physically stand up during this short meeting just to stay true to the philosophy. Try to avoid the silo effect which singles out each team member separately. We want to encourage teamwork, as difficult as it may be when everyone is physically segregated.
#3 – Schedule a Meet-After for Deep Dive Discussions
This technique can be applied to a “normal” Daily Scrum where the team is physically co-located. In a virtual setting, the risk of the Daily Scrum turning into a technical discussion is potentially even higher than a physical Scrum. Reserving time for detailed problem-solving discussions will promote focus and teamwork.
To wrap up this short article, I hope some of these will be useful to you as we all try to improve our team collaboration through a virtual environment.